SPP 037 – Using KDP Select to Drive Sales

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After our holiday break (wherein we produced “shows” but Sean and I basically just whored ourselves out for two episodes in a row), we’re back to discuss KDP Select and free promotions to drive sales of your books.

Voicemail first

We’re backed up on voicemail, but this got us partially caught up. Here’s what we covered:

1. Gareth gave us holiday feedback

2. Stefanovich (sorry; I don’t know how to spell it) gave us her impression of what a “marketing funnel for writers” meant (from episodes 33 and 34) in her own words and more or less nailed it

3. I’ll get to the third voicemail in a minute, below.

I asked for advice on managing my email list

I’ve got a big list from my (Johnny’s) website, but the problem is that a lot of those people joined based on the businessy, entrepreneurial, and even tech stuff I used to talk about but no longer do. I now do my human potential “Legendary” stuff and writing/publishing, and wanted to know how to “convert” that list.

Sean’s advice, as he’s facing the same thing, was to ignore the problem. Seriously. He said just to keep sending what I wanted to send (like free book promos) and the people who wanted to leave the list would leave it.

Garrett asked about using KDP Select free promotions to drive sales

This was such a great topic — and was something that I had so many questions about myself, seeing as I just released Fat Vampire 3 a few days ago — that we made it the show’s main topic.

The discussion that followed was VERY convoluted and I kept giving Sean virtual smackdowns because he was saying one thing and then contradicting himself. That asshole.

We got it all sorted in the end, and it’s some seriously detailed and great advice. But I’m not detailing that shit here. You’ll have to listen.


To view the video version of this episode, go to: Self Publishing Podcast #37 – Using KDP Select to Drive Sales

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  1. I have a clarification question. At some point, Sean says that Aweber will “like you” or “not like you” depending on open rates and whatnot. What does this mean? What are the repercussions or implications of Aweber “not liking you”?

    • Email services such as gmail, hotmail, ect have security layers in place which decide if your email is spam or not.

      Email marketing services such as Aweber have connections and agreements in place with the email services that ensure emails sent through them do not get marked as spam (the majority of the time).

      To keep these agreements in place Aweber have to be able to guarantee spam will not be sent via their email servers. To do this they warn and eventually ban customers who are doing any of the following:

      Sending unsolicited emails
      Receiving a lot of spam complaints

      Obviously the more emails you send to people who are mildly interested or not interested at all, the more likely you are going to get unsubscribes and spam complaints.

      • Ha, what Danny said. Thanks Danny!

  2. How is this for an idea – to promote a new book to your list instead of offering it free to them to reward the list members and create early adopters just offer them a 50% discount for a few days and then raise the price to normal. so if you are going to sell a book for $8.00 on its release sell it for $4.00 or even $2.00 to generate early buyers and get on the buying lists. I worry that free and kindle select promotions do not have the effect they had before, so if you got a list use it to launch a book in the new release 30-day window on the buyers list as much as possible.

    • IMHO, the only problem with that is that it doesn’t help attract new buyers. Your list will buy your book for the discounted rate – but they probably would have paid for it at full price, anyway. But by putting it KDP Free, you can attract free-seekers, who may just become new loyal fans (and, hopefully, join your list!) If it’s only a reduced cost, like 2 or 3 bucks, you’ll have a harder time pulling in new readers with each book. That’s what I’ve seen so far, not that I’m old hat at this yet.

      • Garrett’s totally right. The hard part is getting someone to open their wallet. $4 or $8, not much of a difference (there is of course, but there’s a much, much bigger difference between free and .99).

        The key is in getting more readers, and ideally, having someplace for them to go past your initial offer.

  3. Hey Johnny,

    Just a FYI…I came from your “old” list and love the podcast.

    I might be an exception to the rule, but thought that I would encourage you not to give up on us “marketers”…a lot of us fall on the “creative” side and have writing projects of our own.


    • Thanks man… I’m going to do what Sean said… actually already am. So you’ll still get my stuff, though it may “prune itself” as I do more non-marketingy stuff…

  4. My twopence – is it possible to offer your loyal customers some kind of coupons? Like – “please buy the book right now on Amazon, and if you can’t afford it email us and we’ll give 50 of you a coupon to get it for free (or for discount?)”? Some will, some will not. You can even give out more without telling anyone 🙂

    So keep up the good work and don’t be too shy on the podcast 😉
    Skopje, Macedonia

    • Amazon doesn’t have anything like this, though I know some other companies like Smashwords and Kobo do (I believe).

  5. Wow, luv the nuggets presented here. Especially luv the part about the email list : I’m in a similar position like Johnny : I’ve sent out mostly branding / marketing related stuff, but I’m more interested in sending updates about my artwork and my upcoming stories. What Sean says makes sense : keep the list, and cater it to your new direction. Get rid of all the peeps who don’t open your mails and then build a “new” tribe on top of it.

    • I’ve started this already. It’s tough to see people go when you’ve spent so much time watching that number grow, but it’s also refreshing. I love thinking that more and more, people will only be on that list because THEY WANT WHAT I OFFER. Truly and deeply.

  6. Is there a strategy for getting the free book ‘buyers’ to come to your web pages and signup to your list at some point?

    I have links, etc. in the book for those who want more info, but thought you guys might have this ‘perfected!’

    Thanks for all the awesome,


    • I haven’t done this yet because of the list confusion I mentioned on this episode, but I know what I should/will do. I’ll add some kind of offer at the end of the story to be notified when sequels or other titles are available for free, and send them to my site to sign up to join that list. Anyone truly into what you do (and who has presumably just finished your book) will join.

      Then, obviously, notify those people when you have free stuff.

      I’ve also seen S&D offer a free story as a bonus for signing up… right then and there. Something they can’t get/buy anywhere else.

  7. For your situation (having written a weight loss book), Roland, I would find something of value that your reader would want. Either some extra chapter, a bonus list (maybe something like “200 low-calorie snacks that are so good you won’t believe they’re good for you” or something).

    Alternately, if you’re trying to build relationships with potential clients, you may offer some kind of one-on-one time for a certain number of people per month or something along those lines.

    The general idea is coming up with something which extends your relationship with the reader by giving them what they’d most want. For our situation, it’s short stories. Yours might be something else.

    I think in the diet space, there’s definitely an opportunity to offer helpful emails and freebies. Maybe even do a contest offering one winner each month or quarter or something free consultation if that’s in your services package.

    • Thanks, guys! Those are all good thoughts.

      My wife and I are also considering using the ‘serial model’ to some extent for our books. Workout books would eventually be packaged together into a bundle, with a ‘bonus’ to go along with it. We need some low cost items to act as a funnel, keep the barrier to entry low, and keep them coming back for more.

      At this point, the fitness industry has quite a few people who write a book just so they have a book to help give them legitimacy, then stop. Or, they stop because their self-published book didn’t take off or make any money. We want more than that, and this first book was always our ‘first book.’ The wife’s got quite a few in Bulgaria already, and it’s time to bring it here!

  8. David mentioned during this episode about a way to list your books for free (or similar). He talked about 25-30 different locations where this could be done and that there was a page that worked in iframes where you could efficiently create all the listings. I never got the URL and couldn’t find it in the show notes. Could you please share that resource? Thanks!

      • Just thought you would want to know – 10,921 downloads in 2 days. Works pretty darn good!

        • Made it to #29 in Free Kindle and now rank #1 for “retirement planning” in both Kindle Store and Books beating out the big name publishers. Very psyched!

  9. Great stuff here, even though most of it is outdated now. Still, it’s great to track the way you guys think and reacted to what’s going on in the industry. From that we can extract principles that would work in any situation.

    I totally believe in rewarding the most constant readers. That’s how you make true fans that will promote for you.

    I was also very interested to listen again to the press-release stuff in this episode. I would love to hear more about using press releases for self-publishing. Do you still use them? Or have they fallen off into your 20% by now?

    With the most recent changes at Google, is the three-day “serialization strategy” still useful to getting on page one with certain key words? If so, I’d love it if you guys were to talk more about how to use releases to drive traffic to site/list/books….


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